Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Failure of Adults

I'm going to admit that it has been a tough year. I've had something of the Midas touch in reverse (everything I've touched has turned to shit) and I'm now focused on trying to change that.

I've somehow stayed fairly resilient despite the set backs. It's like this, when market forces are against you, you either change tact or lie low. A Hindu friend of mine told me that it's necessary to go through a period of Thandas - the rough period where all you do is what you need to do to survive and then hit hard when things turn around.

However, while I've managed to take the knocks on the economic front, I've been a little less resilient on the personal front. My relationship with Joyce has become very strange. It's become hot-cold-hot-cold in the space of a year. I guess you could say these things happen in relationships. However, our relationship includes a third party - Yooga. This little boy is an innocent fellow and when his mother and I have our issues - he gets affected. Towards the end of her first cold phase, she allowed him to speak to me and during that conversation, he asked,"Why you don't want to see me anymore?"

That cut me. I mean, how do you explain to a three-year old that his mother has decided that she has too many issues to let me see him? I mean when you love a child and the child loves back, you as an adult must ensure that your actions don't hurt it and somehow I ended up hurting that little boy. I stopped going to Church with her and the boy when she hit her second cold phase. I couldn't see the God in her blind desire to pray. She is more interested in recruiting my soul for the church than she is in letting the boy and I interact. For me, there is more God in the act of showing love for a child and nurturing a child than there is in speaking in tongues.

I'm grumpy with her for having all sorts of crazy ideas about our relationship without thinking about Yooga's feelings (he's got God, he doesn't need you). I am upset with myself for not being in a position where I could protect the boy. As Philip Larkin once said,"They fuck up, your Mum and Dad - they don't mean to but they do."

The good (?) news is that I'm not the only adult to fuck-up a child. Spoke with Agnes and out of the blue, Marcus started crying. Turns out his grandfather had a car accident and when he told his Uncle, his Uncle started telling him off, claiming the old man had the accident because he went to Agnes's place to iron the kid's cloths. He actually put on a pretty brave face but when his mother started venting towards me, he finally couldn't take it and burst into tears.

I've had my ups and downs with Agnes but Marcus is a good kid and doesn't deserve this. I don't see why the hell his Uncle (a professor) has to play this game of emotional blackmail with his 10-year old nephew. I know Agnes is not the easiest person to get on with but as a decent adult, the he shouldn't take his issues with his sister out on his nephew.

My own parents have guilt when it comes to me. Somehow they think their divorce has had a psychological effect of me. I think my mother once expressed that guilt when I once admitted that I never saw my happiness in marriage - in fact until Joyce, I always suspected that I'd marry for everything else and save my passion for a forbidden relationship.

But then again, I give my parents credit for trying not to fuck me up. Compared the some of the divorced people I see today, my parents were angels. I mean they bickered and during the divorce and beyond, I'm sure there was plenty of recrimination on both sides. However, they did their best to protect me from their crap. My father ensured that there was enough money for me to goto to school while my mother was always there to provide emotional support.

Contrast that to poor Marcus, who's father is such a clever man that he uses our bankruptcy laws to screw his mother out of $200 in monthly child support payments - this guy actually took Agnes to the high court to get his child-support reduced from $1,800 to $1,600 a month. I mean it was kind of sad when Marcus asked me,"Did your Mummy and Daddy hate each other?"

Of course, Marcus does not have the monopoly on a lousy father. My mother has a cousin who is such a professional shit, his first wife refuses to let have him have any contact with his son and his second wife has gone into hiding because he's made so many threats against her and his boys.

In short, there's something wrong with adults. My folks tried to protect me from their crap. Unfortunately, I don't seem to be meeting people like them. I ask myself why the hell am I meeting people who seem keen to fuck up their kids? There's something seriously wrong when people have this weird obsession with taking it on the kids they have. Seriously, let's not worry about people not having enough kids but more on looking after the ones that they already have.

Monday, January 11, 2010

In the Name of Allah:Yahweh and so on.

When you live in a secular republic, you sometimes forget that religious sensitivities are actually very sensitive. Singapore's government has had a habit of clamping down on anything that smacks of religious or racial provocation. Muslim school girls cannot cover their heads when they go to secular schools but if you want to write about gassing the Malay community, you could find yourself in jail. Say what you like about Singapore but I like the fact that this is a place where you can have a Church, Hindu, Taoist,Buddhist temples and a mosque all within walking distance of each other. Say what you like about Singapore being a stuffy place that suppresses things (a lot gets suppressed), it's one of the few places where sacred festivals get merged. You get things like Gongxiraya or Deeparaya whenever Chinese New Year or Depavali (Diwali to North Indians) happen on the same day as Hari Raya (Eid in the Arab World)

So when you grow up in this environment, it's hard to figure out why people get worked up over what sounds like a small issue. During the Danish Cartoon issue, the average Singaporean couldn't see the European point of view that this was a freedom of speech issue or the Muslim view that was a point of respecting religion. To us, both sides were unnecessarily stubborn. We thought the Muslims were getting worked up over a bunch of cartoons for nothing while teh Europeans were just being arrogant in their insistence over the right of the papers to publish anything.

Anyway, it's the story of religious harmony has taken a slightly different tone across the Causeway in Malaysia. Apparently some churches have been attacked because a recent high court ruling has allowed the use of the name of God, "Allah" to be used by non-Muslims. For me I find this a little disturbing.

I've always understood the Malay Muslim community to be peace loving. Generally speaking, Malay Muslims in Singapore are friendlier than their Chinese counterparts. I also find Malay majority Malaysia to be more relaxed and less stressful than Chinese dominated Singapore.

I find it strange to listen to Westerners talk about the violent nature of Islam or how Islam represses people. Anyone who thinks Islam is violent should come over to Malaysia and see how the average Malay conducts his daily life - it's the most simple and peaceful thing you'd see. By contrast, the Chinese get unnecessarily aggressive over 20 cents.

So given the inherent peaceful nature of Malay Muslim culture, why is everyone getting worked up over the term "Allah?" As far I have experienced the argument against using the word "Allah"or any the common sayings in the Arab world like "Salaam" (peace) or "Insh Allah" (God Willing) by non-Muslims amounts to mocking the religion. On the personal front, I just need to be aware of who you speak to. In the Arab world and dealing with Arabs, I use such phrases because they look on it as an acceptance and appreciation of their culture. I don't with my Malay friends.

Let's leave aside my personal interactions and look at the theological premise of non-Muslims using the term, "Allah." Why is it blasphemy to use the term "Allah," in a Christian service for example? I can't think of one that comes to mind.

Islam, does not claim to be a new religion with a New God for people to worship. If you read the arguments of Islamic scholars, Islam is not a NEW RELIGION but a FULFILLMENT of the current covenant with God, which is outlined in the Jewish Torah and Christian Gospel. As far as Islam is concerned, "Allah," is the same as "Yahweh" in the Torah.

Theological conflicts between Christianity and Islam come not so much from differences between religion but between the disagreements of interpretations of the same God. Christians revere Christ as part of God and see the Gospel as a record of Jesus's life. By contrast, Islam reveres Jesus as a Prophet of God (as opposed to being God) and sees the Koran as the Word of God. However, if you look at both books, they both agree of quite a lot.

Everyone agrees that there is the One God - Allah and Yahweh being the same God expressed in different linguistic terms. It is actually correct for Jews and Christians to use the term Allah when speaking in the Arabic world or even in Malay language communications. Jews, Christians and Muslims agree that the God they worship is the same one.

Hence, I wonder what is going on over this argument about the use of the word Allah. It's definitely not a theological dispute. Nor is it about people who care about Islam. To care of Islam, you need some understanding of its theology just as you do about any other religion. I suspect trouble makers must be up to no good.